If you take a listen to 2008’s Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair immediately after hearing the new album by La Dispute, it now sounds pretty shit. When I first heard it back in the day, it was interesting, quirky, different; now, it just sounds a bit silly and teenage. But I think that is less to do with how well the album has dated and more to do with how well La Dispute have progressed since that record. 2011’s Wildlife acts a bridge between the albums, but Rooms of the House is where they really come into their own.
La Dispute have been labelled as a number of things; most of which is either plain wrong or just dumb (post-punk, post-noise, post-music?!). They were recently called “unclassifiable”. I think this is an exaggeration and, while they take inspiration from various sources, people are over-thinking it. La Dispute are a screamo band. They are just a really good and interesting one, so it may not be immediately evident. They do not just constantly squeal and screech; La Dispute mix in the intensity with slowed down introspection. Listen to “Woman (In Mirror)” for instance. It is essentially spoken-word poetry. And then putting “Scenes from Highways 1981-2009” immediately after. It is moments like these that make La Dispute worth listening to. It’s like John Cooper Clarke doing spoken word in the middle of a Black Flag album.
Basically, this is a fascinating record that people with all musical tastes should check out. That is without even touching on the emotion-heavy lyrics and the Rooms of the House theme, which works much more convincingly than Wildlife ever did in this respect. La Dispute wear their heart on their sleeves more than any band I can think of, and this shines through more than ever on the new album. It’s dripping with passion, energy and heart: “But I guess in the end, we just move furniture around”.